Time to Review Tenant Screening Policies in the New Year

With the arrival of 2017 January is a great time to review tenant screening policies.  Regardless of property size, large or small, a best practice is to ensure all policies are up-to-date and current with laws and regulations governing tenant screening and the subsequent use of public records.

Tenant Screening laws, regulation, and policy frequently change and alter the legal landscape for landlords and property managers.  In April of 2016 HUD released a new guidance on tenant screening practices that caused considerable concern for landlords and property managers.

From the website of the San Francisco Chronicle (SFChronicle.com; Apr. 08. 16):

Landlords who have a blanket ban on renting to people with criminal background records could be charged with violating the federal Fair Housing Act, under guidance issued last week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

However, a landlord who fails to screen prospective tenants for criminal records and rents to one who robs or hurts a neighbor could be sued by the victim.

That is the dilemma landlords now find themselves in as a result of HUD’s new guidance, which provides few specifics on how to comply. (1)

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of TenantScreeningUSA.com states:  “HUDs policy changes have caused and will continue to create considerable confusion for property managers and landlords.  Subsequently, a best-practice, in order to maintain full compliance, is to work with a well-qualified third-party tenant screening company.”

Tenant screening is a critical tool utilized by property managers in selecting a potentially long-term tenant.  Some might suggest that long-term tenants are increasingly infrequent as the population of the United States becomes more transient.  Tenant screening remains critical.

Almeida states:  “Tenant screening can also assist in the prevention of property loss or damage as well as harm to current residents.  The information found in tenant background checks, combined with a thorough interview, will serve a landlord well.”

Another change landlords and property managers should be prepared for is with the ascendancy of Donald Trump to President and the potentially radical change that could occur.  Trump’s selection of Ben Carson as Secretary of HUD could bring around significant change as his views appear to be dramatically different that those of the current administration.

From the website of the New York Times (NYTimes.com; Dec. 05, 16):

In an opinion article in 2015 for The Washington Times, Mr. Carson compared an Obama administration housing regulation to “the failure of school busing” because it would place affordable housing “primarily in wealthier neighborhoods with few current minority residents.”

The rule, known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, was years in the making and designed to end decades-old segregation by offering affluent areas incentives to build affordable housing. Critics, including Mr. Carson, called it government overreach. (2)

Almeida states:  “All tenant screening policies should be reviewed based on recent changes by HUD as well as the potential of change with a new administration.  Having a third-party tenant company screening involved allows landlords and property managers to remain well informed and compliant with all existing and potential legislative changes.”

TenantScreeningUSA.com is a third-party background screening company that provides tenant checks to landlords and property managers for all sizes and types of rental complexes.  From the single-unit to the large community, TenantScreeningUSA.com has the ability to customize a tenant screening package specific to a managers unique requirements.

Notes:

(1)   sfchronicle.com/business/networth/article/New-HUD-guidance-on-criminal-records-puts-7237897.php

(2)   nytimes.com/2016/12/05/us/politics/ben-carson-housing-urban-development-trump.html

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